Hampshire Hogs and Hambone’s successor

Here’s a happy sow and her piglets at Manor Farm near Bursledon. During our tour of the farm animals, Little Minnow loved throwing pig nuts into their concrete sty. We discovered that this wouldn’t have been an option during WWII, because animal feeding stuffs were redirected for human consumption. Instead, ‘Pig Clubs’ were started: the members would pool their money to buy a piglet, share the labour to care for it, supply the kitchen scraps to be cooked up into pig swill to feed it, then share the meat when it was slaughtered. But it takes a lot of kitchen scraps to feed a pig and under wartime rationing, there wasn’t a lot to spare.

One enterprising Hampshire resident found a novel way to keep his hogs fed. Les Harness, of Grange Park Northington, was a regular visitor to the various U.S. camps around Alresford collecting their kitchen leftovers.  A mess meal for a GI looked like almost a week’s worth of rations to the British and I’ve read that people were horrified when they saw the Americans stub out their cigarettes on leftover food on their plates. But Hambone Junior’s comrades were generous, even helping Les with his petrol ration when they spent three weeks away from Alresford training under canvas, so that he could carry on collecting all the waste food for his pigs. Les repaid their generosity when the men were upset by Hambone Junior’s death in a road accident a few weeks before D-Day. He gave them a puppy from a litter which had recently been born at Northington Grange. They named their new pet ‘Spider’ and it was young Spider who departed for Southampton and Normandy with the 47th Regiment in June 1944.

Iris Crowfoot

Sources:

Wartime Farm: rediscovering the skills of World War II, P. Ginn, R. Goodnam and A. Langlands

About Alresford THE 47TH U.S. INFANTRY IN ALRESFORD, H.C. and F.M. Kent

Run Forrest, run!

Did you know Forrest Gump served in the same regiment as Hambone Junior?

In the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the main character was portrayed as a member of the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Division US Army on active service in Vietnam. Forrest, Bubba and 2nd Lt. Dan all wore the same unit insignia in the film as the GIs did when they trained with Hambone Junior in Hampshire.

After serving in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, the Rhineland (and Alresford) during WWII, the 47th Infantry Regiment went on to fight in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam from 1968-1969.

Iris Crowfoot

Photo: Alresford Rotary 10k, Albury Park, 19th June, 2016

Sources:

Forrest Gump – training

47th Infantry Regiment

 

Meeting a Screaming Eagle

The Screaming Eagles (101st Airborne Division) Living History Group put on a ‘static display’ at Alresford ‘s War on the Line event last weekend. Sadly this meant no marching or unarmed combat demos in the station car park, but on the plus side, Mark Richards (on the right) was standing still long enough for me to interview him.

For Mark, the highlight of Living History shows is meeting the veterans, although there are many fewer of them now than when he started ten years ago. Still, a person might tell him their granddad was billeted here, or a serving officer of the Airborne Division will come up to say hi.  ‘It’s great to meet them and hear their stories.’

Can you see the gleaming brass whistle pinned to Mark’s lapel? He found it using a metal detector into the grounds of stately home in Berkshire where the Screaming Eagles had their HQ in 1944. There are many other traces of the GIs still to be found there – he’s seen their initials carved on the trees, and those of their sweethearts.

The Screaming Eagles made airborne landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944 (D-Day). I asked Mark whether he would have wanted to go with them. ‘Nope. The ideal life for me would be Gary Sparrow’s [in Goodnight Sweetheart]. I could go through that alley into the 40s and come back again.’

Hambone Junior’s 47th Infantry Regiment landed at Utah Beach four days later, fighting hard to secure the bridgehead in Normandy. Their HQ in the build up to the invasion was The Grange in Northington. I wonder whether they left any treasures behind for us to find ?

Iris Crowfoot

Sources:

Screaming Eagles LHG

Smart Alec the Spiv

We met Smart Alec on a steam train in War on the Line yesterday. He offered a prize from his cardboard suitcase if either of The Minnows could tell him Mr. Churchill’s job. Big Minnow was inspired and said, ‘He’s the Prime Minister, I think ?’ The case was opened, scattering vintage ladies’ underwear and a crumpled bag of sweets over our table. Alec debated the pros and cons of Kit-Kats and toffee drumsticks with us until we alighted at Alton, both types of sweet clasped in the minnows’ sticky little fists.
Can you see the pink nylon stocking overflowing from Smart Alec’s top pocket ?Perhaps I should have introduced him to Julie who tried on the hat in my post yesterday? But later I saw Alec on the platform, demonstrating a folding mirror attached to the bottom of his walking stick to a passing GI, ‘Specially designed for looking up a lady’s skirt, this is!’ Just as well I didn’t.

Iris Crowfoot

Mid Hants Railway Ltd ‘Watercress Line’

Julie tries on a hat

I met Julie Walsh in the Ladies Waiting Room at Alresford Station today – trying on a 1940s hat. It’s War on the Line at the Watercress Line this weekend and Julie was a most eye-catching passenger in her fitted scarlet dress, high heels and pencilled stocking seams down the backs of her legs. ‘I’d dress up all the time if I could,’ she told me. ‘I just love these do’s.’ She explained that it’s very difficult to accessorize period costumes, so it’s great to come to re-enactment events like like this and trawl through the vintage clothes stalls. ‘I was born in the wrong era,’ she concluded with a sigh.

Iris Crowfoot

Mid Hants Railway Ltd ‘Watercress Line’

 

What did Hambone Junior look like?

Sarah Bridges, owner of Sarah’s Sandwich Shop in West Street, has lived and worked in Alresford all her life. I asked her what she could remember about the Hambone Junior legend.

‘I can remember going along the river path as we were children and it was always fascinating. But it wasn’t until I was an adult I even knew what it was all about.’

‘Any of the charity quizzes in Alresford and Hambone comes up. And so I looked him up online after a quiz.’

I looked him up online too, and discovered that he  is remembered as a ‘brown and white, scruffy little terrier’, whose original name was Whisky and who belonged to a lady friend of the American troops. When the GIs adopted him as a regimental pet, they re-named him in honour of a cook whose nickname was Hambone.

Sarah kindly agreed that Pike could photograph Talluah, her lovely brown and white Jack Russell x Chihuahua, for this blog. Nobody could call Tallulah a ‘scruffy little terrier’ in her smart red and white bandana though, could they?

Iris Crowfoot

Sources:

Sarah’s Sandwich Shop

Tribute to the 47th Infantry Regiment 9th Division

Alresford Heritage